[Note: This post was originally published on November 12, 2012.]
I was fourteen then and in the ninth grade.
Back in the Mid-Jurassic Period, students were allowed to leave the school grounds for lunch. On that particular day, I was walking to the diner with a friend who was in the eighth grade. I’ll call her Lily, but that wasn’t her real name.
We were halfway there when Lily stopped in the middle of the street, grabbed my arm, pulled me closer, and whispered in my ear, “See that guy coming toward us.”
How could I not see that guy coming toward us? He looked nasty—scowl on his face, black leather jacket, tight jeans. The word hood popped into my head.
“That’s [Tough Guy],” Lily said. Although I hadn’t formally been introduced to Tough Guy, I knew some things about him, and they were not good things. He was a person whose reputation preceded him.
“He had to get married,” Lily whispered as he strutted past us. “Now he has to get divorced because he has to get married again.”
Yikes, I thought. “That’s crazy,” I said. “And anyway, maybe you shouldn’t believe everything you hear.”
Actually, Lily sort of heard right. The timing was a little off though. Tough Guy did get divorced within a few months. And he did have to get married again, but that happened about five years later. He married Lily.
I was formally introduced to Tough Guy during my senior year of high school. By that time we had several mutual friends, including my friend Kate.
Lily and Tough Guy eventually divorced. She remarried and moved out of state. Tough Guy never remarried. Maybe he thought two marriages and two divorces were enough.
Sadly, both Lily and Tough Guy died much too young. Lily was a likeable person. Tough Guy, not so likeable most of the time. However, there was an evening when I decided I liked him a little better.
One Friday evening, back in the Late Jurassic Period, I was watching Kate’s children when Tough Guy showed up at her house. I didn’t realize he had been drinking, or I would have told him to go away. With the kids there, I didn’t want to provoke him, so I figured I’d let him stay as long as he behaved.
Yes, he did behave.
I don’t remember what our original conversation was about, but after a while, Tough Guy started talking about the son he had with his first wife. The son, I’ll call him “Wayne,” had been a toddler when he was adopted by his mother’s new husband.
Apparently Wayne, now a teenager, recently had learned that Tough Guy was his biological father. Wayne telephoned Tough Guy and asked him if he was his real dad. Tough Guy told him, “I may be your biological dad, but that man you live with, the one who takes care of you, he’s your real dad.”